A new year and a new President for North Cyprus

Derviş Eroğlu defeated Incumbent Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat on Sunday’s election with 50.38 percent of the vote. Talat trailed behind at 42.85 percent. But what does this mean for North Cyprus at a time when there is increasing pressure to find a solution to the Cyprus Problem by the end of the year?

On the one hand, some people believe that Eroğlu won’t make a good international representative of the TRNC. He speaks little English for starters. He is also more known for his hard-lined approach to a Cyprus Solution. Whilst neither side wants to be seen to walk away from the solution talks, this may lead to the talks collapsing or carrying on in name only, and could ultimately impact on Turkey’s EU accession process. However, the talks have been carrying on since September 2008 and how much has actually been achieved in this time? Recent statements issued by Greek Cypriot President Demetrius Christofias and Incumbent Turkish Cypriot President Talat gave no real specifics on anything that had really been agreed between the two sides. And although I think that Talat was sincere in his quest to achieve a peace solution finally for Cyprus, the term “flogging a dead horse” springs to mind.

On the other hand, Eroğlu has pledged to carry on with the talks where they left off. Many people believe in Eroğlu’s stance that any real, long-lasting agreement should be a two-state solution, and he is not prepared to make the kind of sacrifices that would ignore the rights of Turkish Cypriots and turn them into a minority. Needless to say, South Cyprus isn’t happy about this idea one little bit.

Either way, the majority has spoken, and the Presidency issue is now a done deal. Now it’s going to be a period of wait-and-see. Only time will tell what President Eroğlu will achieve for North Cyprus, and with millions of funding in Turkish Lira from Turkey, he will have to tow the official Turkish Line on the Cyprus Issue. Guarantees, Equality, Free Trade, Land, and recognition of Turkish Cypriots are, of course, key areas that need to be addressed in the coming year. But the Cyprus Problem isn’t the only important issue for Turkish Cypriots. In 2010 we need a leader who has the foresight to improve our economy, tourism, construction industry, technology, and widen our horizons. Because when the time finally does come for North Cyprus to compete internationally in all these areas, we need to be skilled, knowledgeable, and prepared enough to spread our wings.

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